Asking the government to formulate policies to restrain TV channels from carrying out vindictive sting operations in the aftermath of the framing of a schoolteacher in New Delhi, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday wanted to know the fate of the Broadcast Bill to regulate the channels.
The court asked, "There have been discussions regarding the bill. The (information and broadcasting) minister has said that the government is bringing the bill. What has come out of it so far?"
A division bench headed by Chief Justice MK Sarma directed the information and broadcasting ministry to file its reply by Monday.
The court made a reference to the recent "sting operation" carried out by a private TV news channel purportedly showing government schoolteacher Uma Khurana as running a prostitution racket, though soon the police found it was a fake report.
The court said, "If the sting is concocted, it is your responsibility to take action. Some kind of restriction has to be there. It is not about an individual case but about broader policy."
The direction came in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by social worker Rahul Verma that cited the case of Khurana.
The telecast of the 'sting operation' by Live India last month triggered mob violence in and around the school in central Delhi where Khurana taught mathematics. She was soon arrested and sacked from the job. However, Khurana was released on bail Monday as no evidence was found against her.
With the broadcasters opposing the ministry's proposal in the bill to regulate news and current affairs content, the controversial Broadcast Bill, which was to be tabled in the monsoon session of parliament, has been shelved for the time being.
As the monsoon session of parliament came to an end this week, there is no chance of the Broadcast Bill becoming a law soon.